Monday, January 19, 2009

Presiding Bishop Accepts Renunciation by Gay Bishop

(ENS, New York---January 19)  In a surprising development on the eve of the presidential inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, announced that after consultation with her Advisory Council, she had decided to accept the renunciation recently made of his religion by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, formerly a bishop of the Episcopal Church. In accordance with the provisions of Section 7 of Canon 12, Title III of the Canons of the Episcopal Church, she signed a certificate attesting that Bishop Robinson "is released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments conferred in Ordinations."

When asked how Bishop Robinson had communicated his renunciation to her, Bishop Jefferts Schori cited a statement he had given to the New York Times on January 12, in which he was reported as saying that he was "horrified" at how "specifically and aggressively Christian" the prayers used by Episcopalians at past inaugurals were, and that he was determined that the nation should not be led in "Christian prayer". "Ever since the recent case of Bishop Iker," said the Presiding Bishop, "we have agreed that statements to the press are the same as statements to this Office."

Asked whether Bishop Robinson's statement had been sufficiently explicit a renunciation for purposes of the Canon, Bishop Jefferts Schori pointed out that he had also delivered a non-Episcopal prayer in front of many thousands of witnesses. She said that in front of that many people, he invoked "the God of many understandings." "While Gene obviously feels that is his God, a 'God of many understandings' cannot serve as the Episcopalians' God," she clarified. "That would be an awfully small box in which to put the God that we acknowledge."  

Bishop Jefferts Schori also added that at the request of her Advisory Council, she had waited until Bishop Robinson had actually gone ahead with his prayer before signing the certificate of renunciation. "Although those of us watching the ceremonies did not see the prayer, and those in the crowd could not hear what he said, we understand that Gene in fact did invoke his God in front of all those people, and he also did not say or do anything to identify himself as still a Bishop in the Episcopal Church. Besides, as I understand it, he and his supporters made such a complaint about not being seen or heard that they managed to get the Inaugural Committee to put pressure on HBO to rebroadcast his prayer tomorrow before the inauguration itself. So that just clinched it for us," she concluded.

Asked if the deposition of Bishop Robinson was intended to ease her anticipated difficulties at the upcoming Primates' Meeting in February, Bishop Jefferts Schori responded: "No comment."

The Office of the Presiding Bishop made available a copy of the certificate of deposition, which may be viewed here.

(UPDATE 01/19/2009: ENS is informed by the Office of the Presiding Bishop that the previous link is to a certificate used in the parallel case of another former Episcopal bishop, and that the original of Bishop Robinson's certificate will be made available as soon as it has been manufactured Photoshopped adapted. Until then, they ask that we make do.)

---New York, Jan. 19, 2009 (Episcopal Nonsense Service---compiled from reliable sources)


  1. In a separate development, security cameras have recorded a strange oven mitt clothed person holding a disconnected microphone cable near the Lincoln Memorial this past Saturday. Anyone with information about this person of interest, please report to...

    Hey! Who cut me....

  2. This is terrific! You made my day.

    Kendall Harmon's blog has the text of Cardinal Cushing's Inagural prayer which everyone actually heard.

    After whining about not being chosen to speak, Obama chose him, but when he spoke he wasn't heard. You have to love it!

    Gene can't complain. He got to stand in the limelight and issue a press release and that's all he cares about.

  3. Alas, it would certainly seem the sauce for the goose is not necessarily the sauce for the gander. Unless, of course, 815 wants it to be. Infallibility, you know.

  4. Thank you for reminding me that deadly serious is deadly.
    I didn't hear but the Bishop's prayer. It was good and I'm sorry that HBO didn't include it in the telecast.

  5. A second comment about Al;ice Linsley comment.
    You don't know Bp Robinson and you probably don't have the foggiest idea about "all he cares about." His concerns about Pastor Warren's selection were about how that would be seen by LGBT Americans, given Pastor Warren's public statements about same-sex relationships, not whining that he wasn't picked. Having known Gene Robinson for more than thirty years, I am sure that he never had any thought that he might be chosen to deliver the invocation at the Inauguration.

    I did not read any reports about the Bishop's comments about Christian prayers. Many of us have concerns that at events such as the Inauguration prayer ought to be as reflective as possible of the religious diversity of our nation. If that was the Bishop's concern, I applaud him for saying it.

  6. I would note that until the very end, Pastor Rick Warren's prayer was not overtly Christian and that Dr. Lowery's prayer was one to which people of many different religious traditions could respond with Amen.

    BTW, I do find that personal attacks on people who are not part of the conversation are not at all helpful. I don't mind what folks may say here about me, but personal attacks on others are, IMV, out of line.

  7. Father Weir, every now and then I cannot resist the temptation to poke a little fun at the inconsistency and double standards of the liberals who currently run our Church. This post was such an occasion. Bishop Jefferts Schori invited it by her outrageous treatment of a simple press release by Bishop Iker as a "renunciation of his orders", when all he had done was state the juridically accurate and obvious fact that the Presiding Bishop had no jurisdiction over him---"never had, and never will." (The Presiding Bishop has no metropolitan powers over other diocesan bishops, so his statement that she had "no jurisdiction" over him personally was canonically proper and correct.)

    She chose, along with her Advisory Committee, to treat that simple assertion of fact as a "renunciation." I pointed out in this post that she might as well have treated Bishop Robinson's statements to the press---in which he seemed ashamed of the "aggressiveness" of his own religion, and appeared apologetic for being an Episcopalian---as a "renunciation," too. The statements have an equivalent "truth" value as renunciations.

    Satire is a form of personal attack on the person(s) being satirized---it goes with the genre. When our elected leaders make such examples of themselves in public, and embarrass those of us who simply fill the pews, satire is one of the few avenues left to us to register our polite protest of the inanities which they commit, and utter, in our name.

    Alice Linsley can easily defend herself, but her comments on Bishop Robinson were completely in line with the satirical nature of the post. If you will take the time to read this analysis of Bishop Robinson's protest when he was not invited to Lambeth 2008, you will see that he in fact does have a (rather objectionable) tendency to dwell on his own personal reactions to how he is treated by others. While I do not doubt that your own personal relationship with the man may (actually---must, for you to have kept it up for so long) be on another level entirely, those of us who know him only by what he utters in public can go only by the frequency with which he invokes the personal pronoun.

    I personally object in the strongest terms to having such an egoistical representation of the faith in which I grew up be selected as our Church's public persona. It sends precisely the wrong message when a bishop of our Church cannot even bring himself to witness to his faith before the nation, when he has its attention. Regardless of what kind of pastor he may be personally, I consider him to be the worst kind of spokesperson for our Church, because he constantly makes the rest of us ashamed that he, of all people, is our public face.

    I will not say any more, because I do not want to lose the good humor I was in when I started this comment. Please realize that your earliest comment was the fittest in response to the post, and that as you took things more and more seriously, you disregarded your own sage advice.

  8. A message to Barth, because you do not have a listed email: I have to reject your comment---it is too ad hominem, and so traverses my rules. Please see my previous comment, if that helps.

  9. I concur that Alice can (and surely does) speak for herself and provide her own rebuttal. I must say, though, Daniel, that your "I would note.." continuing thought comment is really not germaine. Having been hooked by your comment, however, I must say that you have noted incorrectly re: the first instance of any "overt" Christian reference in Warren's prayer; and the Pavlovian response that almost any US citizen has these days to the versicle, "And all God's people say (or 'said')..." will get the response "Amen" without any indication whatsoever that the preceding prayer was even heard or understood by anybody. Lowery brought good-natured closure to his prayer/address by making use of the technique.

    Whether any of the prayers sounded Christian is not the point here.
    The point is that Gene - well before the prayer was uttered - made it clear by saying publicly when the opportunity arose that he was going to avoid providing an overtly and overly aggressive "Christian" prayer.
    But Gene made a bigger mistake than trying to sensitive by voiding a prayer of its Christian authority. In this venue, it was not the invokers' assignment to provide an amorphous prayer, overly cautious of not offending the religious diversity of the citizens of our nation. That was Obama's job. This was Obama's umbrella, not Gene's. And in order for Obama to do his job and make his point (as most Inaugurees have tried to do, at least from the late 1950's) that such diversity exists, and that they can all be on the same national stage together, he must prove the diversity exists by picking people to represent their own distinctiveness and then expect that they will proclaim it. Gene was picked because Obama's staff and Feinstein's organizing staff could get two birds (distinctions) with one stone. Nevertheless, Gene undermined Obama's vision by stating that he would not provide a prayer that proclaimed his own distinctive faith in Jesus Christ. If Pres Obama had wanted to ask a Unitarian/Universalist to provide the invocation, he would have asked one. But he asked Gene, and Gene should have offered a prayer (without the blather) as all Episcopalians are trained to do by praying their way through Prayer Book - in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

    I can be as sensitive as I need to be given the request to pray over a variety of secular and pseudo-sacred events and gatherings. And it might just be quite the lovely, well-thought out invocation or benediction. But if I don't identify the authority by Whom I pray, and to Whom I direct my prayer, then I really haven't identified myself or why I was in particular asked to pray in the first place. And no Glory has gone to my God, even more important.
    Nope. This was EXACTLY the moment, given the invitation, by whom and to whom and for whom, to invoke the Name of Him through whom all was made. I'm sure he thought he was helping out, and I'm sure he had no intention of unarticulating Pres Obama's vision of being the President of and to every one no matter who they are or what they believe. But that is what he did, and that's why the need to bring it to his attention. "Don't be what you aren't", Gene, be the Christian; proclaim the Name. That's why they gave you the microphone.


  10. Mr. Haley,
    I apprciate satire, but I am aware that there can be a pont when a line is crossed. I think that Alice Linsley crossed that line, just as I think SNL crossed that line when Tina Fey, as Sarah Palin, said that marriage was a sacred bond between two unwilling teen-agers. While I did not vote for Gov. Plain, I thought that she was right in objecting to satire that focused on her family. In the case of Alice Linsley's comments, I thought that there was nothing satirical about them. I did find your piece very funny, even though I don't agree with your assumption that Bp Iker's statement about the PB's authority was correct. She has the canonical authority to inhibit and that she did. Is it unreasonable to assume that Bp Iker's refusal to recongize that authority might be a renuciation of the discipline of the Episcopal Church?
    I think that we may have crossed the line into the arena of beating a dead horse, so I will leave it at that. We diagree.